NUKU’ALOFA, TONGA (25 February 2021) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) today joined the Government of New Zealand and the Government of Tonga to celebrate the completion of two key areas of a major electricity project providing Tongans with safer, more reliable, and more resilient power.
Tonga Power Limited (TPL) CEO Setitaia Pasivaka Chen, New Zealand High Commissioner to Tonga Tiffany Babington, and ADB Pacific Department Director General, Leah Gutierrez all delivered keynote speeches at the event which commemorated the key milestones of the Nuku’alofa Network Upgrade Project.
“Resilient infrastructure for energy is a fundamental building block for any country’s social and economic development, and this is especially critical for small island developing states such as Tonga where climatic events are progressively becoming stronger and more regular,” said TPL’s Mr. Chen. “What has been achieved for areas 1 and 2 of the Nuku’alofa Network Upgrade Project is a significant milestone we can all be proud of. When you turn every road and every corner of the Central Business District of Nuku’alofa and visually see the network upgrade, you know the future generation of Tonga will benefit from the investment funding and hard work we celebrate today.”
Following the devastation of Cyclone Gita in February 2018, Nuku’alofa suffered massive damage in all sectors, including an estimated $46 million to the energy sector. To help restore the network, ADB approved a grant of $6.8 million which—following consultation with the Government of Tonga and other donor partners—went toward the ongoing network upgrade already initiated by the Government of New Zealand under the Nuku’alofa Network Upgrade Project.
“Our support to the energy sector has helped to create an environment for sustainable economic growth and social development through improved access to safe, efficient, resilient, and reliable electricity supply for households, communities, and businesses,” said the Government of New Zealand’s Ms. Babington.
The project is restoring reliable access to the electricity supply network and building resilience of the network to extreme weather and disasters.
“Since 2013, ADB has forged a strong partnership with TPL. During the pandemic, this long-term partnership ensured that the upgraded works we are celebrating today were delivered on time and within budget,” said ADB’s Ms. Gutierrez.
TPL provided capacity development training as part of the project and employed about 17 female trainees to work on the Nuku’alofa Network Upgrade Project, with most working in the field as line mechanics or machine operators.
Under the project, the entire electricity grid was divided into five work areas. The Government of New Zealand funded the upgrade of priority area 1, which covers the main urban center. ADB supported the network upgrade for priority area 2, which is just outside the urban center and has a concentration of industrial, commercial, and residential consumers.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.